The Press Complaints Commission has censured The Guardian for serious errors in reports on the Queen’s Private Secretary who the newspaper falsely suggested was “jointly responsible” for setting up a Royal Charter on press regulation.
The Guardian had wrongly claimed in three articles that Sir Christopher Geidt had a central role in the setting up of the controversial mechanism for overseeing the newspaper and magazine industries. In fact, his job was simply to act as a channel of communication between the Government and the Queen.
The PCC said the repetition of the errors across a news article, a profile of Sir Christopher and an editorial leader made it a “particularly concerning case”.
Publishing its adjudication, the PCC said: “The inaccuracies were central to the reporting; they appeared across all three items; and they directly contributed to the newspaper’s criticisms of the nature of the complainant’s role and his personal suitability to fill it.”
Charlotte Dewar, the PCC’s Director of Complaints and Pre-publication Services, said The Guardian’s reporting had been based on a “serious misunderstanding”.
The newspaper published a lengthy correction in its Corrections & Clarifications column after the erroneous reports in May, accepting that it had “overstated and misrepresented” the complainant's role. Because of this “fast remedial action”, The Guardian said last night that it was “surprised that this complaint has been upheld”.